Tuesday, August 14, 2012


If Alex Bealer's Only the Names Remain: The Cherokees and the Trail of Tears is still in your library, it ought to be deselected post-haste. Published in 1972, its title tell readers that there are no Cherokees anymore! Its closing paragraph and text elsewhere in the book specify that there are no Cherokees anymore in Georgia, and that only their names remain (p. 84):
Now, in all of Georgia and Alabama, there is nothing left of the nation that had lived there for a thousand years before the white man came. The Cherokees are gone, pulled up by the roots and cast to the westward wind.

They are gone like the buffalo and the elk which once roamed the mountain valleys. They have disappeared like the passenger pigeons which once darkened the sky as great flocks flew over the river routes from north to south and back again. Live wayah, the wolf, and like the chestnut trees, the Cherokees are no longer found in the mountains of Georgia.

Now only the names remain: Dahlonega, Chattahoochee,Oostenaula, Etowah, Nantahala, Tennessee, Ellijay, Tallulah, Chatooga, Nacoochee, Hiawassee, Chickamauga, Tugaloo, Chattanooga...

Crocodile tears, anyone? While there are no federally recognized Cherokee Nations in Alabama or Georgia, there are a lot of Cherokees around, including Jace Weaver, director of the Institute of Native American Studies at (wait for it...) the University of Georgia, but that is beside the point. The book is old and misleading. "Misleading" is among the criteria for deselecting (weeding) books.

Bealer's book might have been redeemed if he'd included information about the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, but I doubt it. There's too much wrong with it.

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